Sunday, December 19, 2021

Recap: Town Council hears update on Human Resources, appoints three to committees, approves annual license renewals

Quick Recap:
  • The annual alcohol license renewals were approved. Some were held for completion of outstanding payments, etc. A smaller number than previous times per recollection (but not verified by actual count). Also 4 licenses were approved for businesses that actually haven't started operating yet. In tough economic times, these are good indicators
  • Three appointments were approved; two to the Cultural District (now at full strength) and one to the Community Preservation Committee (adding a Planning Board representative as the prior rep did not get re-elected in November)
  • HR Director Karen Bratt provided the update on what her department does that she had previewed to the Finance Committee in October. A wealth of information was shared. Primary driver is the demographic change the Town is seeing as folks retire (half the department managers positions turned over in last 4 years) and one third of total Town employment changed in same period
  • Insights on the health and pension plans planning process were shared. The Town working with the bargaining units does manage to hold health increases to a minimum. The Norfolk County pension liability will be paid up by approx. FY 2030 when those funds will shift to add to the outstanding OPEB liabilities. This one move revealed a couple of years ago will alleviate the giant albatross that the OPEB liability had been. The other silver lining in the meantime is that the Town is ahead of other communities facing the same challenge in funding their liabilities
  • Goal setting session for the 'new' Council will be scheduled for one of their January meetings. The Community Preservation Committee (CPC) is scheduled for two public hearings in January 2022 (Jan 4 and Jan 18). The public hearings will gather community input on how the forthcoming CPA funds should be used? What projects should be on the 'wish list'? and in what priority order? The input is a step to help the CPC development of the allocation of the CPA funds for eventual Town Council approval during 2022


As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter while I attended the meeting in the Council Chambers. 


The Twitter hashtag #TC1215 can be found online The thread begins with 

Citizens comment
  • Citizens comment: #tc1215 resident comment on Hillside Road not being plowed due to change in ownership of 1 Summit Rd; no success via DPW, paperwork provided to show it is a public way
  • next up, approval of minutes of Nov 10, 2021, motion, seconded, passes 9-0 voice vote #tc1215
License transactions
HR Director presentation
  • next up - Karen Bratt, HR Director presentation previously shared with Finance Committee in October 2021 ->…  #tc1215
  • succession planning could require additional staff for HR; #tc1215 new hire candidates testing etc. covered under HR budget; expensive to use web ads for openings; Mass Municipal is a good source for others in municipal government arena; comp plan being reviewed
  • HR files are still paper based, will try to update to electronic in future (sooner than later); Norfolk County pension funding will increase thru FY 30 and then decrease, allowing for shift of funds to cover the OPEB deficit  #tc1215
  • OPEB funding has been growing gradually each year via budget and 'free cash' #tc1215
  • Police/Fire covered by separate MA General Law; separate from the other Town/school employees #tc1215 compensation reserve - money set aside for unexpected for salary costs, i.e. full vacation balance or collective bargaining anticipation of increases
  • 11 new department heads since Jan 2016, approx. 55% of the leadership; city/towns exempt from minimum wage but it is being implemented here gradually; equal pay law of 2016 an item to watch; collective bargaining agreements cycle will come up again next Jun/Jul #tc1215
  • contract docs formatted for better consistency across the agreements, all but one (Police) completed thus far; benefits fairs not held during COVID hopeful to bring them back next year. #tc1215 assist with tracking of the COVID quarantine and testing protocols
  • planning for succession and working to fulfill the positions required; #tc1215 Employee assistance program available for those who need it; provided by Town insurer; drug testing assistance for CDL drivers in DPW for failures; fortunately not a frequent event here
  • Franklin fortunate to have a good reputation so folks are generally eager to come here; niche positions are harder to fill; #tc1215 contractual benefits to get advance notice of retirement plans, helps us for a win/win i.e. police/fire
  • EDC, Jan 5th meeting - Planning Board and MAPC 5:45 PM start #tc1215 no legislation for action tonight
Town Admin report 
  • Town Admin report - ARPA funding approved through Gov Baker and now coming to us; free rides to Senior Center, via GATRA also covered with this funding; thanks to the legislative delegation; happy holidays, hard to believe that in a couple of weeks it is 2022 #tc1215
  • future agenda items; #tc1215 nothing at this time; thanks to the neighbors who helped the Santa Foundation, Q on generators still at the DPW, specs designed for the generators; variety of smaller projects coming back from the burner to more front awareness;
Council Comments
  • Thanks to Nancy for putting the annual report together; happy holidays, happy new year; looking forward to 2022! no word yet on complete streets or housing plan from State approval; FBRTC looking for new members; #tc1215 open mic night last Wednesday, fantastic night
  • "please treat everyone with as much respect as you can"; thinking of the tornado victims; 800K lies lost to COVID, be peaceful, stay safe; #tc1215 Ohio missionaries still held captive in Haiti (more than 2 months); do due diligence to manage COVID;
  • get into the season (after prayers), reinforce to do our due diligence; let's get 2022 to look forward to Jan, goal setting session coming; #tc1215 motion to adjourn, passe 9-0

Audio recording of meeting to be available in couple of days

The Human Resources presentation document was the same used for the update to the Finance Committee in October. It can be viewed below or found on the Town of Franklin page ->

Recap: Town Council hears update on Human Resources
Recap: Town Council hears update on Human Resources

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